- We took a quick spin in the $4.3 million Bugatti Chiron Super Sport.
- Drive it tamely and it's a buttoned-up grand tourer.
- Put your foot down, and its 1,600 horsepower delivers an unforgettable punch.
2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport First Drive Review
Bugatti's $4 million hypercar feels ordinary, until you let its 16 cylinders off the leash. Then it feels like mayhem.
I've never felt the inclination to shave before driving a car, but here I am, two hours away from driving the 2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, and there's shaving cream on my face. My favorite pants, shirt, and my good pair of sneakers are also laid out. It feels like I'm getting ready for a first date. Knowing you're about to climb behind the wheel of a one-of-500-in-the-world car with a price tag equivalent to a mansion does some very weird things to your psyche.
I'm so thrown off because I am not sure what to expect. Nothing else I've driven can go over 250 mph, or had a seven digit price tag. Or had 16 cylinders pouring out 100 horsepower each. A quick two-hour stint behind the wheel reveals the Chiron Super Sport's dual nature, both as an overqualified grand tourer and a comically fast hypercar.
What is a Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, and what makes it super?
The Super Sport is one of several variants of the Chiron, along with the Pur Sport, Sport and the "base" Chiron. The Pur Sport serves as the track-oriented version of the Chiron, while the Super Sport offers several modifications that give it an even higher top speed including a longer tail with stacked exhaust tips, side air curtains, a higher 7,100 rpm redline, and specially developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that were stress-tested on a test bench originally built for the space shuttle.
These changes allow the Super Sport to achieve a limited top speed of 273 mph. A special version of the car, the Super Sport 300+, pushes that limit even further up to 300 mph.
The Chiron Super Sport's other raw numbers are equally astounding: 1,600 horsepower, 1,180 lb-ft of torque, and 0-62 mph in 2.4 seconds. To provide some perspective, the Super Sport has four times the number of cylinders and turbochargers as a Honda Civic EX, nearly nine times as much horsepower, and costs ... 150 times as much.
It costs what?
The Chiron Super Sport starts at $3,825,000, but the vehicle I drove stickered all the way up at $4,301,450, a truly eye-watering figure thanks to nearly half a million dollars in options. Much of that came from the $222,500 Blue Royal Carbon paint job, but other details are similarly expensive. The Sky View roof with glass panes over both seats adds $62,000, black anodized interior trim pieces add $56,000, and (my personal favorite) Hidden Delights in Lake Blue for $2,500. What are Hidden Delights? We don't know either.
The car costs so much that it's difficult to clear that fact from your mind when you're driving it. Every curb or vehicle on the road is a potential hazard, and that's exacerbated by the fact that when people see a Bugatti they tend to slow down to get a look. I understand why, but it's still a little unnerving.
The only times that I do briefly forget how much the car costs is when I get into the throttle and it transforms from a car into a teleportation device.
What's under the hood of the Chiron Super Sport?
Under the hood is a small storage space where I jammed my backpack, but immediately behind the cabin is a 8.0-liter W16 engine with four turbochargers. It produces 1,600 horsepower and 1,180 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and a permanent all-wheel-drive system.
The top section of the accelerator pedal's travel is stiff for a reason, preventing you from getting into the Super Sport's incredible power inadvertently. At about one-third throttle, the engine wakes up with a start and the unrelenting power pours on. Maximum torque arrives just over 2,000 rpm and the engine maintains it nearly all the way to redline. On a public road you can't fully open up the taps for more than a few seconds because you reach extra-legal speeds so quickly. The Chiron Super Sport pulls and pulls with an ease that I've never experienced before, despite a hefty curb weight of around 4,400 pounds. It shoves you back into the seat but instead of letting up after that initial snap of acceleration it keeps you pinned there while the engine's roaring soundtrack pours on.
How does it drive?
The Chiron Super Sport comes with four driving modes: EB (standard), Handling, Autobahn and Top Speed. I didn't end up touching any of the three non-standard drive modes; the Bugatti test driver in the car with me said they'd lower the car too much for the canyon roads we were driving on and cause it to bottom out in places.
In its standard drive setting, the Chiron Super Sport feels shockingly docile in normal driving. The suspension is taut, but the ride never turns brittle. Most of the time, the Super Sport is an effortless grand tourer, at home on long sweeping curves that it blitzes through undramatically. It feels like a typical car in many respects, but then you spot the 300 mph at the end of the speedometer and it offers a quick reminder that the Super Sport is anything but ordinary.
There is thankfully a front lift system, which can be activated at speeds under 18 mph, allowing the Chiron Super Sport to make it over speed bumps and up driveways without scraping its low front splitter. Without that, I would have been tempted to hop out of the car to let Bugatti's test driver handle any kind of lip. I can't imagine what each of those pieces of carbon fiber would cost to replace.
Though it's near impossible to divorce the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport from its price tag and rarity, in moments it delivers a truly joyous experience. The way its power erupts and the giant coupe thunders down the road makes both driver and car feel alive in every sense of the word.